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Budget 'chasm' of more than $4 billion divides Florida House and Senate

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — There's a budget gap of more than $4 billion dividing the Florida Legislature.

The House and Senate released rival spending plans on Friday.

The House is proposing a nearly $76.2 billion budget for this year. The Senate's budget is more than $80.4 billion.

The main reason for the gap is because of health care spending.

The Senate budget includes extra money to help hospitals. The Senate is also proposing to draw down federal aid in order to extend health care coverage to 800,000 Floridians.

Both budgets boost spending on public schools higher.

The gap means budget negotiations could be lengthy and contentious.

House budget chief Rep. Richard Corcoran calls the gap a "chasm" but said he's optimistic an agreement can be reached by the end of the 60-day session.

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